West Virginia Issues Permits, Sports Betting Almost Ready for Launch
West Virginia legalized sports betting in March, before the Supreme Court of the United States overturned a federal law that banned the practice outside of Nevada. Lawmakers in WV approved sports gambling at casinos as well as on approved mobile apps. At the end of June, the state’s Lottery Commission approved the sports betting rules proposed, and the state started issuing interim permits for sports betting.
Under the legislation, each of the five licensed casinos are allowed to deploy up to three individually branded platforms. The law dictates that operators can only accept bets from customers who are physically located within the state. To do this, betting platforms must have the ability to block users who try to access the sports book from outside West Virginia.
Geolocation supplier GeoComply, based in Vancouver, Canada, received the first WV interim permit on August 9th. In a press release issued Wednesday, the company said:
“West Virginia has been very proactive in their goal to become among the first states to introduce legal online sports wagering and we are grateful for the support they have shown us in the licensing process.
We are now ready to supply compliance-grade geolocation solutions to the local operators and partners in West Virginia to get online sports wagering up and running in the state.”
GeoComply offers accurate, reliable, and secure geolocation services. The company is an advocate for regulated online sports betting, poker, casino, ADW, DFS, and lottery operators in 42 states to make sure they comply with both federal and state regulations.
As mentioned above, geolocation services are necessary to confirm that a bettor is physically within West Virginia while he or she places the bet. GeoComply’s services may be localized as needed, and for WV, the company will build virtual fences that mirror the state’s borders. Any customers who go past that imaginary fence will lose access to sportsbooks within West Virginia.
Other states, like Mississippi, limit online sports betting to within actual casinos. Suppliers like GeoComply help sports gambling operators comply with those laws. DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey also uses GeoComply to locate its customers and comply with state laws.
Information is still limited because neither Penn National nor the state of West Virginia have confirmed the partnership, but it appears that Penn National has been granted the first West Virginia’s operator license for a fee of $100,000. The state will collect 10 percent of the company’s revenue in taxes.
Penn National Gaming is an operator of racetracks and casinos in the United States and Canada. Based out of Pennsylvania, the company operates 29 different facilities in the U.S. and Canada, with many under the Hollywood Casinos brand.
The Hollywood sportsbook near Harper’s Ferry, which puts it less than an hour from Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., will likely open for sports betting on or before September 1, 2018. We can expect to see William Hill branding on the sports book’s retail venue inside Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. According to the lottery commission, Penn has met all the requirements necessary for an interim license.
William Hill has recently signed an agreement with (an as yet undisclosed) casino in West Virginia. It’s very likely the deal signed is with Penn National, which would give William Hill a sportsbook within Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino.
William Hill is one of the largest bookmakers in the world, and so far, it’s the only company that is serving all four states that have already legislated and regulated industries: Mississippi, where they will operate 11 sportsbooks; in Delaware, where they operate three sportsbooks; Nevada, where they operate dozens of sportsbooks; and New Jersey, where they operate two sportsbooks. With West Virginia added to this list, it looks like William Hill is on a roll and definitely a player in this newfound American sports betting landscape.
Like Penn, FanDuel has met all the requirements for an interim license to offer sports gambling in West Virginia. FanDuel has a partnership with The Greenbriar.
FanDuel is widely known as being an American daily fantasy sports provider and bookmaker. It has become the second-largest DFS service in the country. In November 2016, FanDuel and DraftKings (the largest DFS service in the U.S.) came to an agreement to merge; however, the FTC said that would be a monopoly so the deal was terminated.
In May this year, Paddy Power Betfair announced its intent to purchase FanDuel and the U.S. operations of Paddy Power Betfair became known as FanDuel Group. FanDuel serves as the primary operating brand in the United States. The first FanDuel-branded sportsbook opened in mid-July at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.
At the end of June, FanDuel’s CEO Matt King confirmed that it was partnering with Greenbrier for its sports betting operation. A press release issued to PFT had comments from King:
“We are honored to be chosen to provide sports wagering services at The Greenbrier, an iconic resort in theU.S. As we work towards building out a top sports betting product for the upcoming NFL season, we look forward to bringing West Virginia residents, sports fans, and visitors to The Greenbrier the best interactive sports experience on the market.”
Through FanDuel, people who are physically present in West Virginia will be able to place bets using the FanDuel app. Sports betting will also be able to place bets in person at the on-site casino. The deal indicates the betting service should be going by the fall, with the actual date depending on the formal acceptance of the WV Lottery Commission’s regulations.
What This All Means for West Virginia
When it’s all said and done, it looks like West Virginia will be poised and ready for the upcoming football season. Licensed casinos will likely attract both residents of West Virginia as well as visitors from nearby states like Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Maryland. Visitors won’t even have to step foot into a casino to place a bet; once they cross the geo-enforced “border,” they’ll access the FanDuel app, or a specific casino’s app, and place their bets on the NFL NCAAF and any other sports taking place at the time.
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